Namibian parliament stormed ahead of genocide deal

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Around 300 protesters stormed Namibia’s parliament as the National Assembly was due to vote on a $1 billion German compensation offer to atone for its 1904-1908 genocide against Herero and Nama people.

Namibian authorities announced on May 28 Germany agreed to fund projects in the south-west African nation worth that amount over 30 years, to atone for killings and property seizures in its then colony over a century ago.

Germany apologised the same day for its role in the slaughter of Herero and Nama tribespeople and officially described the massacre as genocide for the first time.

Protesters led by opposition and traditional leaders from affected communities marched through the capital Windhoek before climbing over a fence to enter the parliament building, arguing the sum was too small and saying they were not involved in negotiations with Germany.

“The so-called agreement is a flagrant disregard of our legitimate reparation and restitution demands,” a petition handed to the deputy speaker of parliament Loide Kasingo read.

German colonial forces killed thousands of Herero and Nama between 1904 and 1908, after the tribes rebelled against German rule of the colony, then named German South West Africa.

Survivors were driven into the desert, where many ended up in concentration camps used as slave labour, some dying of cold, malnutrition and exhaustion.

“The agreement falls short … on meaningful apology and reparations and contains no justice and only sharpens our pain,” Kavemuii Murangi, a descendant of a victim, said in a statement.

A pro-government faction of the Herero and Nama provisionally accepted Germany’s offer, one of its leaders, Gerson Katjirua, said at a news conference. The parliamentary vote was likely to pass.